Cybermodeler Online

Celebrating 23 years of hobby news and reviews




The appearance of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, or NASA imagery or art does not constitute an endorsement nor is Cybermodeler Online affiliated with these organizations.


  • Facebook
  • Parler
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • YouTube

Da Vinci Self-Propelling Cart Kit

Academy Leonardo da Vinci Self-Propelling Cart Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2011 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Da Vinci Self-Propelling Cart Scale N/A
Kit Number 18129 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Fun project that highlights the engineering genius of Leonardo Da Vinci Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

Da Vinci Self-Propelling Cart Kit Da Vinci Self-Propelling Cart Kit
da Vinci da Vinci
da Vinci da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci developed a number of designs that were well before their time. His vision of vertical flight with his spiral helicopter, paddle wheel-powered vessels, and the early armored car may have been laughable in his day, but were the stepping stones for today's MV-22 Osprey, turbine-powered Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and M1 Abrams tank (and their analogs from other nations of course).

The self-propelled cart was designed to be a visual wonder for those who saw it. It was to be spring-powered where the cart would be pushed backwards to wind up the springs, then when the brakes were released, it would move forward. As the mechanism unwound, blocks in the drive would shift the pivoting front wheel to shift its direction periodically. Total range of the cart was estimated at over 100 feet using materials available today, but the design was never built in Leonardo's time as the designer either didn't have the right materials or capabilities to bring his self-powered cart to life.

Academy has released this educational kit of Leonardo Da Vinci's 1478 design of the self-propelled cart. This kit is molded in brown styrene and presented on two parts trees. Assembly is a simple snal-together approach and the completed model moves using spring power. Assembly is a simple snal-together approach and the completed model moves using spring power. The kit's brown color and texture give the appearance of being made from wood.

Assembly of the is completely snap-together - no glue, paint, or batteries required. This project literally took a few minutes though a careful eye to the instructions is required to ensure that the various gears and sprockets are properly oriented so that the spring-powered motor will drive the cart. The kit also has a display stand to allow the model to sit nicely on your shelf, but it will float should you want to try your hand and spring-powered propulsion.

This is a nice-looking model that should be a snap (pun intended) to assemble and will be fun for your child to learn a little history or as a nice conversation piece on your desk at work or at home.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!